Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Vietnamese Memories

Koi Pond

The birdkeeper

Trees which grow around other trees...

Scale issue #1 - I've never felt so tall!

Scale issue #2 - Tiny furniture

Scale issue #3 - non-massagey thoughts: "I've got the largest lady feet in the entire Vietnam!"

Not every experiment is successful

My Sleeping Buddha 

The Frog Princess
If I was adopted by a Vietnamese Family...

Friday, April 10, 2015


Benjamin, my friend

Benjamin and I
If I were a Firefly

Sometimes I feel strangely connected to people I meet repeatedly during my morning commute

The Funeral
The Kingdom of Fish/Farewell to a Friend

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sketches on Facebook!

Dear friends and curious strangers,

About a week ago I started a Facebook page where I post my drawings and illustrations. Please visit me on www.facebook.com/rusomarg and if you like what you see, feel free to message or comment, opinions are very much appreciated!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Lucy Dawei Peng and Ruso Margishvili
(Entry for Fairy Tales and Architecture 2015 competition) 

“There once was and then there was not a little town that looked much like yours does now. Sun-bleached cotton, bricks and cobbles, stone and wood, grass, wildflowers. Parks that our universes and trees that our fortresses.”

At least that’s what my mother tells me.

Now, on the dark cold nights when the waxing moon reigned, a delicate slash of silver set in deep velvet, my mother would sigh. We would hear the crystals’ deep rumbles and moan, and she would and say, “I can’t even recognize our street anymore.”

For on this very spot, today, there is and is not a crystal city; my home looms tall and translucent, unflinchingly straight as if to stab the sky. My city reflects a spectacle of rainbows straight into our eyes, the multi-faceted surfaces mutating and twisting our reflections. We would at one moment be small as fairies, then crouched old men, then finally the types of giants who are truly fit to inhabit the grand formations. 

(When we take on this final form, the crystals seem to glow a little pinker, as if they find us finally worthy of our home’s majestic scale.)

Ours is a city of smooth surfaces, so smooth, in fact, that we never leave a trace. When I was little I had a deep fear, that one day I would slip and fall, and I would fall and slip and slide right out of the city and into the burning sun, without a trace, without a footprint left behind. And with even my reflections gone, Mom and Dad would slowly forget me, that I would slip away from their memories as well, sliding right off, and then I would truly cease to exist. 

One day, I stole my father’s army knife. I walked through the city of crystals that day carving my small name deep into the salty surfaces, over and over again, low so that only a child like me might notice, deep so that it would not wash away with time. Maude. Maude. Maude. I seemed to carve all over the city. In my childish mind, this assured me that should I accidentally slip off this city, that the city would not forget me. 

But that was a long time ago. Now each day I walk through my city, this city of Crystal, dark glasses just like everyone else’s on my nose, heavy boots even in the heat of summer to protect my feet against any shark-toothed rocks growing out of the ground. My scarf whips about me as I enter a wind canal, and suddenly, the thing takes flight!

“Fuck,” I whisper under my breath, sound gets amplified in these tight streets. My throat feels constricted and my heart beats fast. I cannot afford another scarf.  And so I run, reckless, after it. 

It’s whipping about fast down an alley, a bright red streak ahead of me as I run after it. MAUDE! I hear someone call my name, but I don’t stop to answer, and the echoes follow me down the sharp, rainbow-hued alley Maude, Maude, Maude, as I chase after my scarf. 

I turn a sharp right and duck to avoid a toppling formation. By the time I look up again my scarf is gone. 

Ah, it was the tree! This tree, the only tree. I had forgotten it was here. When the city was still low we used to climb to the roof of my house, and we would watch the crown of the tree catch the sunlight, sprout green in the spring, turn orange in the fall. When I got older, I would venture out on adventures to try to find it, but by then the crystals were dense and tall, and it was: impossible.

My scarf waves at me as it slithers up the tree. 

I begin to climb, and the world seems to turn upside down. The wind is blasting me so hard I can hardly breathe, and when I look down the height makes me dizzy.
I concentrate on the dancing red line ahead of me. It feel as though I’m crawling forward at a snail’s pace, hand over hand, on my knees, my limbs heavy as if I move through molasses.  

And I suppose that I am, for amber liquid is all around me, sucking me under, pulling at my feet. Every few steps I must stop and rescue a boot, mired in the sticky syrup, and it’s absolutely exhausting. 

I let myself sink into a particularly deep pool of sap, my eyes level with the shivering golden surface. 

I wonder if I can even make it up this tree. And now I’ve gone too far to make it down. Maybe I’ll just become preserved in this amber, folded in and fossilized: to be found eons and eons later. 

I heave a sigh and float where I am, watching the small creatures that live here bustle about. 

A small four legged bird glides towards me, giving me a small nod.  

“Hi Maude,” he chirps as he passes. 


As far as I can tell the bird has no natural evolutionary improvement, he just seems to work with his environment, gliding as lightly as he can across the sap on his four tiny feet.

That’s it. I abandon my boots to the golden mire get up unsteadily to my feet.  I feel lighter by half. 

You never feel so exposed as to be barefoot. But this exposure is sending me distinct and direct information, electrifying synapses in my brain that had long forgotten how to touch and feel.

The little bird is a little ways off now, and I gingerly imitate his movements, imagining myself as light as I can, feeling the squish of sweet sap between my toes. 

Smooth as silk. I begin to skate through the amber caves, glistening spheres that hang like fruits, passing inside an orb then sliding along the outside of a curve, always upward, or was it forward? Is this how ants must feel, defying gravity, so strong as to cling to such surfaces that we think slick and impermeable? 

In what seems like no time at all I’ve reached the top of the last orb. The way up is an opening above my head. Little birds can fly, but what can I do?

Small creatures gather around me and begin to jiggle, and the amber quakes and flexes. Their frisson of energy is contagious, and I understand their meaning. I am suddenly tossed around, flying a little higher with each wave.  I sync my muscles up with the rhythm of each bounce, and together we jump, going higher and higher. 

The creatures titter, and with one final effort, I am through the hole. And what horror awaits me on the other side!

A giant man with blood-red eyes and a sharp, hungry beak cause the atmosphere around us to flex and flow. His movements conduct the claustrophobic space, shimmering white and closing in. 

I try to fight off the invading strands, sticky and rough they surround me, engulfing me in heaving shadows and shades.  Panic! Strands drop across my face and I scream and stumble: my protective goggles tumble from my face and is instantly buried in silk. 

Suddenly, everything is still. I see without the filter of the dark lenses for the first time since I was a little girl, and the room seems to open up before my naked eyes, beautiful iridescent soft and dancing from a silk man. They caress my cheeks softly on their ways to the floor and ceiling where they tangle and harden into the heart of the tree. 

Kind but tired red eyes look down at me, and the Silkman breaks into a warm smile.  
“My eyes are red,” he whispers softly, “because I’m tired. And my nose is red…because I’m allergic to this fellow.” 

He gestures with his head to his right shoulder, and the small four-legged bird flutters down to nestle against his cheek.

“Maude of the Crystal city,” he straightens up, “Why are you here?”

“What is all this? Did you make it?” I ask, sliding my hands along the drapes of silk, along the hardened exoskeletons of bark. There are creatures here too, resting in their little cocoon homes, playing and teaching amongst a garden of mushrooms. 

“Stay, and I will show you how it’s all made.”

And I did, and the Silkman did more than show me, he taught me how it’s done. One morning as we watched the sunrise, I notice a nest, bright red. The little bird is snuggled in tight, and I slowly pet his soft head. 

The Silkman taught me how to knit, and when I left, I left braver and gentler, soft and more powerful.

I look out from my tree now, taller than anything that surrounds me, but I have yet to glimpse that silk tree’s crown, somewhere in the Crystal city.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter thoughts and birthday plans

If I had a conjoined centaur twin sister...

Long hair comes in handy sometimes

The plan for my birthday

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The first time I discovered the white space, I was four. It happened on one of the nights when my older sister Elene and I stayed at my grandma's. I remember how much we loved spending time in her house, - there were so many secret corners, so many rooms to hide in, and so many antiques to play with while she was watching soap operas on TV. 
We could explore the entire house while she was busy, every single corner, except her bedroom. Her room though was always closed for us; the door, covered with thick velvet curtain, looked intimidating but yet intriguing, and the only time we were allowed to enter it was if we spent a night in her house, and sleep in her bed.

After the death of my grandfather, she slept all alone. She would lay on one end of their grand bed, fearing that if she somehow crossed "his side", she'd discover how lonely she was. I thought that was why she liked to keep us in her bedroom when we stayed over, to replace the emptiness with us. 

Grandma never went to bed without a long pre-midnight phone call with her friend. Her friend, who lived just a block away, would update her with all kinds of political news and gossip, and this conversation was usually followed up by the latest developments in soap operas. Little did grandma know that her high voice travelled all the way to the end of the house in her bedroom and didn't allow us to sleep. We laid in bed, and we talked, talked, talked. Then we'd get bored and start inventing games. 

On one of those nights Elene crawled in a square opening in her duvet cover and called me. I saw her  getting into the sheet, lifting the duvet and crawling under it, and although it seemed like there was no space for me, she insisted that I followed. So I did. I crawled into the square opening with lace contour around it, lifted the heavy woolen duvet just like her, and laid down on the side to roll under it, but there was no need for rolling - as I put my head under the duvet, the space started expanding, and Elene, who was rolled like an embryo before, now had enough room to get up, stretch her legs and make the first steps into a beautiful cave-alike soft structure. I got up too and followed her. 

The glowing white canyons narrowed and expanded; we started chasing each-other, and chasing the light illuminating the walls. Everything was smooth and velvety, my feet sometimes went deep into the ground, and sometimes they slipped on the unexpected silky surfaces. We slid and rolled, jumped and ran, played peekaboo... 

Suddenly I lost her. I stood in a space much larger than us, even larger than the cathedral where our parents used to take us on weekends... it was magical. Vast, open, white, soft, cloud-like, glowing... I started wandering around,  I felt safe and nested, no need to find a way back, no need to look for Elene anymore... I could hear her voice being absorbed by the folds and curves of soft walls, slowly becoming distant, but I didn't feel the rush to call back... 

"Oh, look at that, it's almost midnight!" - grandma's strong voice shook the walls of my temple, - "alright, honey, it was so great to catch up with you, but I have to go to bed now... aaah, yeeees, ha ha haa" - I could feel the ground trembling under my feet. Everything started shrinking. SHE SHOULDN'T FIND OUT ABOUT OUR SECRET SPACE! - I thought and started running after the brightest end. The walls were getting heavier, and darker...
... I could see Elene's foot on distance. Then her figure started shaping. WE ARE SAFE! I followed.

The door opened. Grandma checked on her girls sleeping. Then she turned on the bedside lamp and looked around for her nightgown. The lamp casted her shadow at my pillow. I watched her large figure changing... then I felt her weight on the bed... The soft yellow light was replaced by the playful blue one from TV. Voice of a man invaded the room. He was narrating a car accident on Mtkvari River. Three people died...

I could hear my grandma's breath getting deeper and deeper, and the silences between the sound of her old lungs being filled with short and low ones of Elene. Inhale.... exhale... inhale... exhale...
... My eyes were heavy, it was slowly getting dark... 
... I found myself wandering in a soft white cave. In the distance Elene sang about fans and butterflies...


I had this memory chasing me for a long time; finally, in December I started illustrating it, but I was struggling with materializing the cloud-like space I remembered. A week ago I found two beautiful photos on my friend Lucy's Instagram (@lluontheloose) and with her permission I used them as the space from my childhood. Thank you, Lucy!

Oh, and this is not the collaboration with Lucy that I mentioned before.

Oh, oh, and please forgive if you find some terrible grammar mistakes.


Some unsuccessful studies of the space:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Top secrets

The past month and a half has been pretty busy over here, with nights slowly getting shorter and shorter, and ideas shaping every hour. My friend Lucy Peng (I've mentioned her several times before, mostly about Shoebox Circle) and I decided to collaborate on a very interesting competition; I can't tell you much yet until the winners are announced, but I can definitely say that I haven't enjoyed working with someone as much as I did with her - a true collaboration, both of us highly involved in all stages, and super critical about ours and each-other's work, and I believe that the results are wonderful. We joke about how obsessed we are with our own work, but we are truly impressed by the quality of results of this union.
The process was so rewarding that the results of the competition became kind of irrelevant; however, we are very curious to see what other people came up with, and what they have to say about our creation.
And finally, we are having hard times being patient and not sharing the work with you - until March, stay tuned.

- Meanwhile, check out Lucy's beautiful work on her IG @lluonthelloose -

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Witch

Exactly a month ago I posted a sketch of a design study for my friend's tattoo - he asked me to draw his little daughter as a witch. Here is an updated (and way more complex) version of the same:

The Witch

It's strange to post just tattoo designs on my blog lately. I've got two secret projects going on, will post them as soon as I'm allowed to.

Oh, almost forgot - got my first graphic tablet! So much fun! I'm working on my splitting-the-brain-in-two skills now and I'm curious if this new media brings new graphic ideas. Excited!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Poppies for P.

Another tattoo design request from a friend - this time floral.
She reminds me of a poppy flower...